Decision on partial demolition of historic downtown building deferred

VIDEO: Decision on partial demolition of historic downtown building deferred

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston's Board of Architectural Review deferred a request to demolish part of a historic downtown building.

LS3P, a local architecture company, requested to tear down a portion of The Rainbow Market building on North Market Street.

The building, constructed between 1902 and 1944, has seen numerous uses over its existence.

A BAR member said the historical value of the building is why she feels no part of the building should be demolished.

"It was a fish market for many years," she said.

The request looked to demolish the entire building, except for the front facade on North Market Street facing the market.

BAR members discussed the request, later making a motion to defer a vote under the circumstances both the front and back facades be preserved, along with all the timber holding the building together.

"I'm glad that they didn't do it," said Nina Reagan, a vendor in the market. "I didn't see how they would be able to because all of this is historical. The entire area."

An employee with LS3P said they would go back to the drawing board to figure out how to get approval from the board in the future regarding the demolition request.

The long-term idea for the building is to create a three story, 50 room hotel.

The hotel would join the 45 other hotels on the peninsula already in existence or being built.

"Boutique hotels are going on up and down the street," Reagan said. "Once the people came in and found out [they had] to keep what it looks like on the front… but if they can make it look nicer then it would be a benefit to us."

"I think it would be great," said Walt Steinmetz, of Massachusetts. "As long as they can keep the facade and keep the feel of Charleston I've seen so far."

However, the concept of having another hotel in the market area draws mixed feelings.

"It's just like the 50 that are over there," Reagan said. "And the 50 that are going to be down there. It's not just one hotel going in there, they're talking about four within this one block radius."

"I think it would draw people and they would want to stay," Steinmetz rebutted.

"I like that place," said Angelique Walter, of Virginia. "I really hope they don't tear it down."

Right now construction is rolling for future hotels on King Street and Meeting Street.

The Bennett Hotel (404 King Street) next to Marion Square is slated to have 185 room, while the Homewood Suites (415 Meeting Street) will have 162.

A City of Charleston hotel study completed in June shows a 14% increase in the number of rooms sold on the peninsula between 2015 and 2016.

With more hotels in the works, some of the vendors in the market are concerned about another side effect.

"We're at a standstill now as to where to park," Reagan said. "We're fighting over where we can park and also where our customers can park."

Reagan fears, if approval is given to the proposed 50 room hotel, replacing The Rainbow Market, then she and many others will be at a loss for parking.

The hotel study also shows 5.2 million people visit the Charleston peninsula each year.

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